I sincerely believe that every person that we meet crosses our path for a reason and every encounter has the potential to be special if we are open and allow it.
In my years in the hospitality industry, I have been blessed with meeting so many amazing people. It’s one of the most wonderful parts of what I do. I have learned that every single person I meet has their own story and I strive to keep that awareness in my heart as I go through my day to day duties.
Many times the person across from us is a weary traveler and sometimes the best thing that we can do is to make the encounter quick and seamless so as to allow our tired guest to quickly find comfort and rest. But even in these circumstances we do our best to provide help, warmth, and compassion in the most efficient way that we can.
There are other times, wonderful times when we are given the gift of connection and are able to share a little piece of our stories with one another.
One such example was with a couple that I had the honor of speaking with this past summer. They were browsing in our gift shop the morning of their departure and after greeting them and offering my assistance, we began to chat. It’s a conversation that I’m certain that I will never forget.
It began when I asked them where they were traveling to that day. She pulled out a book and showed me two different options which they hadn’t yet decided upon. I shared with her what I knew of the two different attractions and also made some additional suggestions. This led to further conversations about the places that they had recently been.
She shared with me that as often as possible they would get a road trip book and they would travel together to see the sights listed within. When they completed one book they would purchase another and go to further new areas.
I thought to myself, how amazing to see so many great sights. It fascinated me and I asked her, “What is your favorite place that you have traveled to?”
Mr. Guest, who up until that point had been browsing the gift shop and had been quiet, stepped closer to us and said, “There is no favorite place. It’s not about the place or the attraction – it’s about the journey, the experience, the memories made together.”
At that moment I saw them turn towards each other and my heart saw such a special moment pass between them in that simple glance.
Mrs. Guest turned to me and shared that only a few short years before Mr. Guest had a major heart attack. They rushed him into surgery and while on the operating table he had a stroke. They didn’t think that he was going to make it, but against all odds, he pulled through. However, as a result of the stroke he had lost much of his memory. She said it took a lot of time and work, but “here we are.”
He reached over and he took her hand in his, turned to me and shared, “We are making new memories and learning to make every moment count. We are living and experiencing life, instead of getting caught up in the trivialities.”
I looked at them and I couldn’t help the tears in my eyes. I told them how honored I was by the gift of their story and what an inspiration they were. They came closer and wrapped me in a wonderful hug and I told them that they should continue to share their story.
We spent a little further time together as I laughed at some of their travel stories, listened with wonder as they spoke of some of the wonderful people they had met along the way. As they were preparing to depart, she took my hand and looked at me with such kind eyes and said, “Don’t wait until tragedy jars you awake. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Live now in every moment that you can and don’t let life’s trivialities get in your way.”
And … just like that – in one random encounter – my day, my life so much richer for such a treasure received.